October 21, 2020

Washington Redskins: Week 5 Wednesday Press Conference Wrap Up

After an exciting comeback performance against the Philadelphia Eagles to bring the Washington Redskins record back to 0.500, the club hopes to continue keeping pace as a co-leader of the NFC East. A small dose of the game plan against the Atlanta Falcons was revealed on Wednesday when head coach Jay Gruden and starting quarterback Kirk Cousins met with the media.

With the injuries to opening day starters Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins will have a tough challenge in defending Julio Jones who Gruden called “a different human being”. If Culliver is unable to go, expect lots of safety help for Bashaud Breeland and the reliance that the pass rush can get home before Matt Ryan has enough time to make a big play. On a quick point dealing with safety Trenton Robinson, the league DID clear him of any wrong doing when penalized twice for a targeting personal foul last week. Robinson has been a lift to the team after the season ending wrist injury to Duke Ihenacho and will be relied on to help contain the explosive Julio Jones on Sunday.

Although many were wondering why Matt Jones saw limited action in last week’s game against the Eagles, Gruden denied the possibility that it was because he was in the “dog house” after fumbles in back to back weeks. The more realistic scenario was the riding of Chris Thompson as a more productive back when Jones and starter Alfred Morris were shut down to start the game. Cousins noted that he as “always felt that he [Thompson] can play” and now that the Florida State product is healthy, he is able to put that on display.

With the possibility of being without two of the Redskins top playmakers this week in DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed, Gruden talked about how the team will have to find more ways to get Pierre Garcon involved in the offense. Garcon made his presence felt last week on the game winning touchdown drive and is a playmaker in a different way because of his aggressive motor after the catch.

Although Ryan Kerrigan missed two gift sacks last week, which he was frustrated about from a statistical standpoint after the game, Gruden credited the recently paid linebacker for still being “very disruptive”. Like Terrance Knighton, Kerrigan draws a lot of attention and allows others the opportunity to make an impact play against single man blocking. On both of Chris Baker‘s sacks last week, Baker was the beneficiary of a one man blocking attempt while Kerrigan received an initial extra chip from the right guard.

Although long 15 play drives are beneficial from an offensive perspective, both Gruden and Cousins explained that they would be happy with quick and explosive scores. It might not wear a defense out as much or win you the time of possession battle, but the availability of a consistent deep threat can significantly help the ground game later on. Rashad Ross had one long reception, but he is still not the same threat that Jackson provided prior to his most recent hamstring injury.

Cousins also noted that scoring touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone is the next point of emphasis for the team. One of their previous points of emphasis was the conversion on third downs, the Achilles heel to the offense for much of recent seasons. Improvement has already been seen from that standpoint, which is a byproduct of more manageable third down situations as well as better communication for the entire offense.

With facing former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan this week, Cousins revealed that he was quite grateful to his work during his time in DC to develop his talent as a rookie. Cousins felt that he “was given a lot of attention as a rookie” because of Shanahan’s and then quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur’s willingness to spend time after practice watching tape and doing drills with him. It will be wise for Cousins as well as current offensive coordinator Sean McVay to give defensive coordinator Joe Barry tips on the tendencies of Shanahan’s offense in key situations.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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